Korea’s fried chicken gets sweeter, saltier

By Sohn Ji-young
  • Published : Mar 8, 2019 - 13:48
  • Updated : Mar 8, 2019 - 13:52

South Korea’s sweet and spicy marinated fried chicken, or “yangnyeom chicken,” has become sweeter and saltier over the past three years, according to a recent analysis of popular local delivery chicken brands by Seoul City.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Health and Environment Research Institute, in conjunction with a local civil group, measured the amount of sugar and sodium in the top four menu items sold by six major Korean chicken franchises. The analysis took place from August to September 2018.

They looked into four types of chicken -- fried-only, marinated, soy sauce and cheese -- at 30 branches of BBQ Chicken, BHC Chicken, NeNe Chicken and Pelicana Chicken. A total of 105 cases were analyzed.

Marinated fried chicken (Pelicana Chicken website)

Results showed that the amount of sugar and sodium in marinated chicken had increased since 2015, when the Ministry of Food and Drug Ministry conducted a similar review of local fried chicken.

The amount of sugar in 100 grams of marinated chicken increased 38.7 percent over the three-year period, from 6.2 grams to 8.6 grams. The amount of sodium content increased 28.1 percent over the same period, from 402.74 milligrams to 516 milligrams.

Moreover, marinated chicken was found to contain the most amount of sugar among the four types of chicken menu items.

Marinated fried chicken contained 8.6 grams of sugar per 100 grams of chicken on average, around 17.2 times that of regular fried chicken (0.5 grams). This means by consuming half of a whole marinated chicken (roughly 300 grams), you fulfill a quarter of your daily recommended sugar intake (100 grams), according to the researchers.

Meanwhile, cheese chicken contained the highest amount of sodium (627.1 milligrams), followed by soy sauce chicken (536.4 milligrams), marinated chicken (516 milligrams) and fried chicken (441.4 milligrams).

The average amount of sodium in half a chicken came to 1,590.7 milligrams, around 79.5 percent of the daily recommended amount (2,000 milligrams).

Seoul City said four of the six chicken brands, with the exception of BBQ Chicken and BHC Chicken, have pledged to come up with their own measures to reduce sugar and sodium content in their food, after being informed of the results in December.

By Sohn Ji-young (